August 30, 2009

TSS: Book Blog Post Turn Ons/Turn Offs

I have been curious about this topic for a couple of weeks now: what interests people about my blog and what draws people to read certain posts? The answers could be as varied as the number of readers. So I decided to open up a small discussion on what draws us personally to particular posts.

I would like to share some of the things that instantly draw me to or push me away from particular posts:
  • Visuals. I love images. I don't know if I am just a visual person or if it has to do with my attention problems, but visuals are a big ticket item for me, if you will. If there are not pictures of the book on the review, I have a much harder time getting interested in reading the review, especially if it is of a book I am not familiar with. So, while some people may be overwhelmed by lots of graphics/colors and while I know it takes longer to load a page, it certainly helps garner my interest.
  • Short and Sweet. I ramble as much as the next person so I am being a bit hypocritical when I say I enjoy short posts. But it is not just the length of the post- it is mostly the length of the paragraph. If the paragraph is more than a few sentences, I may be lost. It comes back to the visuals and the attention thing- breaks make me feel like I am making progress through my reading. It is something I cherish in books as well. It has certainly helped James Patterson become a favorite. Not only are his books interesting to me, his short chapters make me feel like I am making progress. The longer the chapter/post/paragraph, the more likely I am to begin wondering when it ends than concentrating on the story. I have the attention span of a goldfish, I know this.
  • Fresh and New. If I have already seen and read eight reviews of Wuthering Heights this week, chances are when I come to another one, I will pass it by. I will not stop and check to see if there is something new and interesting said on it. I will click Next Item. Give me something I have not seen before or haven't seen a dozen times in the last month and I will be 120% more inclined to stop and stay a while.
  • Blog Tours. Now, if the book in question is one on a blog tour, I understand that you have to read and review by a certain date. I have done and I am on blog tours. I am not going to roll my eyes at that. I will stop and look to see what you have to say in your review, even if I don't comment. One issue I do have with the tours is that some of them seem too big. If there are more than 15 blogs on the tour, there are too many, imo. Readers begin to see the book everywhere and like I said after I read about it so many times in a week or two, I begin to pass them right by, and that is incredibly unfair to those bloggers who are at the end of the tours. Keeping a lower number of blogs in each tour keeps my interest higher. I think 12-15 is a perfect number so that you get a good range of audience and readers get a good number of opinions on the book. When the numbers start climbing to 20 and 30 for one book, I can get sick of hearing about the book I won't read it until possibly years from now. Cases in point- The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris and Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn- whatever interest I had for reading these books was quickly squashed by the time I saw my 42nd review.
So what about you? What turns you on/off when you are going through your Google Reader or browsing your blogroll? Do you look for the latest and greatest? Are you interested in the one book everyone is talking about? Are you giddy when you see reviews for the classics? Do you grimace when you see First Card Wild Tour's playing card symbol or would you rather poke your eye out than read another meme? Do you wish there were more discussions or less discussions? Do you enjoy blogs that post more often/less often? What are your preferences?


  1. I love graphics too! :) However, I'm awful at breaking my posts up into short paragraphs. I have no problem reading longer chunks of text myself, so I forget that most people prefer more breaks. And I write ridiculously long reviews!

    I don't like seeing the same book talked about all the time either (and I never read a Wild Tour's post). I love reading about books I've never heard of before, whether they're from the 1700s or published last week.

    My number one pet peeve, and one of the things that makes me remove a blog from my reader is a ton of memes. I also tend not to subscribe to niche blogs; while lots of the blogs I read favour certain genres, they still have quite a mix of books to review.

    I also really like seeing people's 'I'm joining a challenge post' as long as they either describe the books they're choosing or link to it. A pet peeve is just listing the book title/author: how am I supposed to know if it's a book that would appeal to me?

  2. I don't necessary need a post to be short, but I am attracted by your other three factors: like visuals, like fresh and new, and don't read blog tours (except maybe the first one I come upon!). I would agree with Eva too that most memes don't have a lot of appeal for me. The only other factor I would add that draws me to a blog is a pretty idiosyncratic one, which is that the books generally reviewed happen to coincide with my interests.

  3. WOW----i could have written your post! I need visuals (if a blog does not have photos, it's a bit less appealing to me. Also long rambling posts, do not tend to hold my interest.

    I personally, am not too big on blog tours, as i get tired of reading about the same book over and over again.

    I also prefer blogs where the reviews have ratings, although this would not stop me from reading a blog if I like other things about it.

    Pet Peeve: snobby bloggers (I'LL CALL THEM) that never post a comment on your blog, even though you've posted many comments on theirs. After a snub after snub, they are removed from my reader. There are too many wonderful, friendly bloggers out there, that I'd prefer to spend time reading.

    One last thing (color and blog style) are a plus for me, again, I am very visual.

    This was a great post; thanks for letting us share our thoughts!

  4. Okay, I just posted a long comment and I think Blogger hates me because it wouldn't save. :( Anyways, the gist of it is that I agree completely, especially with the meme thing. There are only a few memes I enjoy reading, the rest mostly just annoy me, especially when that's ALL a blogger has for weeks on end is memes.

  5. Very well said! I completely agree on ALL these points. I'm trying to include more visuals in my posts, and a lot of memes are a turn-off to me, too. I also tend to skim past reviews if they are long and if I've seen too many for the same book.

    Great post!

  6. Excellent idea for a topic, especially as I am in the middle of judging book blogs for the Book Blog Appreciation Week Awards.

    First, I agree with all 3 of your points.

    I find that if a blogger consistently reviews books without bringing in some of their own stories or own experiences, I am less interested. I read blogs because I like to hear from various types of people - if I want an impersonal review, I am more apt to turn to a newspaper reviewer.

  7. I really enjoy graphics as well and definitely short breaks in paragraphs.

    One thing that bothers me about blog tours is when they say it's a blog tour in the title. I don't know why, but I really don't care that it's a tour. I just care about the review. I do a lot of book tours but I never advertise that it's a tour (I acknowledge with a small link at the end). I know this is just personal preference. To tell you the truth, it probably helps those that skip right over them.

    And like Ann said, personal stories. I enjoy that as well.

    I never read memes.

    I've seen a lot of posts lately about "ARC Arrival" where a entire post is dedicated to a single book. The content isn't original (no review just publisher description) and anything where content isn't original bugs me too.

  8. I agree with Diane - snobby bloggers! I like people to be friendly and welcoming to all - even those with a diiferent taste in books to me. I don't like those who look down on people who read certain kinds of books.

  9. Wow, I posted on something very similar today! Only I focused particularly on memes and imbalance. I can't stand reading so many memes. I like thought in posts. I don't mind long or short or anything, but I have to have discussion. It's when I see so many memes posted that I just have no interest in a blog.

  10. I remember a while back you and I had this very conversation. I agree with all your points. I like the review to be straight to the point a short paragraph will do. I hate the redundancy of blog tours. One book I will never read for that very thinks is Mating Ritual of Wasp. I saw the book 1000's of times. We I get review books that are not part of tours. I try to read it when the popularity dies down. I probaby won't read Dancing with Ana because is been reviewed at least 15 times. I am glad I already did my review of The White Queen before it got to popular but then again I got it before most people.

    I like my blog to show my personality and I show them through memes. I try to show them through my reviews but I like to keep neutral.

    Nice post. I believe this is the longest comment I have ever written lol.

  11. I do like to see the reviews of classics and fresh takes on older books; what I like most is analysis, rather than simple straight-up reviews. And I want humor.

  12. I enjoy a personal touch. I like to be able to "hear" the blogger's voice as I am reading their blog. If I have that, the graphics and length of posts don't seem to matter much to me.

    What irks me about most blog tours is that they all push the book on the same day or very close to each other so that when I open my reader, all I see are 8-10 reviews of the same book. I never read them when they come up that way. I would much prefer they stagger them by week.

    On a side note, there have been a lot of blogs lately that I have found VERY interesting but they have BLACK backgrounds and light print which makes my eyes go crazy after looking at it for too long. I have to skim them or skip them as I just can't read them. I wonder if they ever go in to read their own blog. Don't they notice it?

  13. I'm attracted to the visuals but it can't be too busy; that makes it harder to read. And I agree that shorter paragraphs are best, especially if the post is longer.

    Love finding new books.

    I like the memes--but not if that's all that's ever on the blog.

    I also like a personal touch.

  14. Good post topic! these comments are helpful as I'm a new blogger and I will keep them in mind

  15. I don't have any rules like I never read memes or I don't read blog tours.

    Because it's really all about the blogger. If the blogger is able to bring a personal and original touch to their posts I'll read. If they are just spouting off standard information then probably not. So even if I've read a thousand reviews of a book...if it's a blogger I enjoy I'll still read.

    Now I do enjoy images (can't imagine a book review without one!) and short paragraphs. But again, there are still some bloggers for whom I'd made an exception for on this.

    I still post Wild Card chapters but not the logo, LOL

  16. This is a great, thought-provoking post. I like reading blogs that, like you said, are visually appealing. Not screaming with visuals, but nicely laid out, with images to break up large chunks of text. I wish I could tell the people whom I write guest posts for to put some visuals in between my words--that would certainly attract a lot more readers, in my opinion.

    I also like blogs that give me a sense of who the blogger is. So not completely book-oriented, but with enough posts in between reviews, memes, and such that help me understand what's important to the blogger and what his/her life outside of the blogging community is like.

    Of course, when choose which posts to comment on, it always depends on how much time I have. I will read most posts, but only comment on them if I have something to say, or if I have the time. (And, sadly, I've been low on time recently.)

  17. Hi, I'm new to your blog! Followed over from MyFriendAmy's link on Twitter. There are some bloggers whom I feel I have become friends with and those are the people whose blogs I will continue to go to every time the post. Otherwise it depends on things like you said, the paragraph length! Long posts are fine, but only if it's broken up into manageable paragraphs.

    That being said... lol. I will read reviews on the same book for a while to see what the different opinions are, especially if I've read it. I, too, like pictures.

  18. Things I'll mark as read in Google reader without reading and not comment:
    1. most memes (exception is Library Loot)
    2. wild card tours
    3. most other tour books after about the 4th or 5th (by then I know whether or not I'm going to read the book.
    4. All giveaways - don't enter 'em, don't read 'em
    5. Any book review that doesn't have a picture of the cover

    Those are just my preferences. Everyone likes and dislikes different stuff. That's what makes it fun and interesting.

  19. Thanks for a great post!

    I have certain favorite blogs and bloggers that I read, and it almost doesn't even matter what they write. I like them and their style and I follow what goes on in their lives and on their blogs.

    That said, I LOVE pictures, visuals, graphics and use them a lot in my own posts.

    I also value short paragraphs and try to do that in my posts as well.

    Blog tours- I'm with you on the thought that too many posts can kill a tour. But I have to say I coordinated the tour for Paul Harris and The Secret Keeper, and it was a 15 blog tour over the course of a month- and there was variety (guest posts, etc.). Maybe it just happened that all the blogs on the tour were blogs you read (?) I don't know.. but it wasn't one of those mega-tours with 30+ blogs. Not at all.

    The tours I don't care for are the ones that post the first chapter only and there is no review. I never read those. I also don't like the type that hit dozens of blogs on a single day. A blog blitz, I guess you'd call it. Drood comes to mind.

    Great post! Lots to think about.

  20. I like visuals and I like a nicely formatted post that's easy to read (short-ish paragraphs, headings or bold when necessary).

    Like Amy, I don't have hard and fast rules about memes or tours. I don't like reading the 40th review of book either, but if it's a review written by someone I respect, I will read it regardless.

    I actually like some of the memes and look for them -- these are the ones that highlight books (that way, everyone's answer is different): Friday Finds, Where Are You?, Tuesday Teasers, Take Me Away Saturday, Thursday Tea, A-Z Wednesday are some in which each blog participant will have a unique answer.

    I like a mix of personal and objective. I don't think every review has to include a personal story. And I don't think every review has to be informal or chatty. I like the variety and I'm fine with the mix of styles we see on different blogs.

  21. Drat, I just posted but must have forgot word verification.

    I like a nice clean blog with nice graphics.

    I agree about the too big blog tours. I feel sorry for anyone at the end of the tour. How can you have anything fresh to say that hasn't already been said?

  22. I love visuals, which is why I try to have at least one picture for all of my posts, even if it means I need to hunt one down. There's just something about adding a picture that doesn't make the post seem as boring as it could be (not that I'm saying any are).

    I can be such a rambler, but there are times when I can't think of anything to say. So my posts always tend to vary in length. But I'm will you on the paragraphs. I love it when people break their thoughts into paragraphs - even if a thought is only a sentence or two. i also think it just looks cleaner when there are multiple paragraphs compared to one big paragraph.

    You know, there was a time when I thought I was behind everyone because I was reviewing novels that most of the UF/PNR community already had. Then I realized that everyone has already reviewed them so mine would be one of the few instead of one of the many. Now, if I know a novel is going to have reviews flooding the blogosphere, then I'll actually wait to post mine. I still haven't read Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon and yet everyone wanted their hands on it as soon as it came out. By the time I get to it, it won't be circulating as much.

    I'm not a big fan of blog tours. It's more or less like you said. When you're apart of a tour, than there are a dozen other blogs posting their review at the same time, so you get lost in the crowd. Plus, I've had authors send the same post to multiple sites, so while they may be vising LE, it's not a unique or original post. It loses its appeal.

  23. Like for Amy, it's first and foremost about the blogger. I'm attracted to blogs where the blogger brings a personal touch to their posts. The more friendly the blogger is--the more approachable--the better. But as Beth said, personal stories each and every time aren't necessary. I like a variety. Maybe that's why I subscribe to so many blogs!

    Subject matter also may come into play, depending on the blogger and my time constraints. I used to be able to keep up with every post in my Google Reader. Now, not so much. That means I've had to sometimes let some posts go unread. And the ones that go are often the ones I'm not especially interested in. Children's books for example. Sometimes certain memes. But it varies. I still try and read all the posts in my feeder, but I am unable to comment on every post.

    I think a big turn off for me would be poor grammar and spelling. No one, including me, is perfect. I don't expect that. But I do expect to be able to understand and follow a post. If something is written in text speak or is a 20 line sentence, I am less likely to want to read it.

    You all are making me feel bad for writing such long posts! Only kidding (about the feeling bad part). I do ramble, and I know that some people find that off putting. That's not something I'm likely to change though. As a result, length isn't an issue for me in the blogs I am drawn to.

    I like visuals, but they aren't necessary. Especially with new bloggers who are still learning the ropes, I get that they may not know how to add images to their posts. Depending on the type of visual, some choose not to because of the space and download speed it eats up. For me, it's more about the words than the pictures or video's one might add.

    Blog tours and fresh and new--not issues for me. It really does come down to the blogger in this case. I'll read the review no matter how many I've read before on the same book because I value what that blogger has to say. And if I've read the book myself, I'm even more interested in reading what that person has to say.

    I did say I rambled, didn't I?

  24. I definitely need a picture of the book cover to get more of a sense of the book.

    There are a few memes out there that I skip (Teaser Tuesdays) because they just don't do anything for me but there are others like the LT Thursday posts and Sunday Salon that require people to actually form a thoughtful post.

    The thing that bothers me is the blatant Amazon link box right at the top of the post. I think you should use an image of the cover at the beginning and put a discreet link at the bottom. The other way makes me feel that someone is just trying to sell me a book rather than just discuss it.

  25. I agree with all of that, esp the part about paragraphs. I want to see the cover of your book too. I like to see the blogger's personality.

    Things I skip: Tuesday Teasers, always. The vocabulary one on Wednesday (sorry Kathy!), Friday Fill-ins, most challenge posts (I don't do challenges.) I skim Library loot (IF you have pictures) and the waiting-on one (ditto picture.) I really wish they were all on one day. I skip all but the first few blog tour posts (first few I run across, not first few posted. I'm often a few days behind in reader.)

    99% of the time I will not click through on a partial feed blog. I usually unsubscribed immediately after subscribing, to tell the truth.

    I immediately unsubscribe if you have music on auto-play.

  26. I think it's all been said before, but I only subscribe to blogs that appeal to me for some reason - usually I like the blogger's writing style or realize we have similar tastes.

  27. Wow- thanks for the awesome discussion! Everyone had thoughtful comments and I appreciate it. It is great to hear what appeals to others as well.

    Lisa, you bring up a good point about partial feeds- that annoys me, too. It seems like it would be a good way to get someone to click on over to your blog, but it has the exact opposite effect.

    I, too, enjoy the personal touch bloggers bring to their posts. I love hearing about how a blogger relates to a story.

    I like some memes and participate in some memes. I like the ones that highlight books most of all, such as Friday Finds, Mailbox Monday, and In Your Mailbox. I also like Musing Mondays and BTT, but they often overlap. Thursday Tea is also a good meme. I don't like reading meme after meme, but I also understand when there is not much else to post because you haven't finished a book lately (I had a bad couple of weeks in August myself), but it should get back to the reviews as soon as possible!

  28. I feel like my preferences vary depending on my mood. Usually, I love short paragraphs like you - just because I tend to read blogs while I'm at work and it's nice to have opportune places to take a break frequently.

    Pictures are nice but lack of pictures doesn't usually deter me - unless the post is scary long with little breaks and little life (by it's looks, but I guess you shouldn't judge things by there looks, but sometimes I'm guilty of doing this!).

    Aside from that, I try to read as much as I can, especially when it comes to the blogs of my readers. Not everyone is going to have a perfect post all the time ... but sometimes a seemingly unworthwhile post turns into a favorite. I guess it's that way with most things in life, especially books!

    Great topic for Sunday Salon!

  29. I agree with the need for images on a post. I think an image is important...especially when it comes to a book review.

    As far as memes, I do them occasionally, but I'm not bent on doing every one, every week.

    I am always worried that my reviews aren't long enough so I probably tend to write longer paragraphs, but I don't mind reading long ones myself. This was a good point made because I didn't realize that some people do not like to read long paragraphs. I'll keep this in mind!

    I liked what Eva said about including a description of the books you list for a challenge. That is a great idea!

    In a final note, Diane and farmlanebooks are right about the snobby thing. No one should judge anyone on what they like to read. I don't do it to others and I certainly wouldn't want it done to me.

    Great, thought-provoking post Rebecca!

  30. What a great discussion! I very much agree with Amy and Wendy: most of all, what keeps me returning to a blog is the person behind it. Of course I have my preferences, but if I connect with the blogger I'll stick around no matter what. A few people have mentioned similar taste in books, and that's actually not a determinant factor for me. Some of my favourite bloggers have similar taste to mine, but others barely ever read the same books as I do. And yet I enjoy their writing and always read what they have to say.

    What else...I think I'm in the minority when it comes to reviews, as I prefer longer, more detailed ones to short ones. I agree with what you told me in a comment recently, though: I prefer shorter plot summaries that don't give too much of the story away.

    Paragraph breaks and images are nice, and when it comes to memes, challenge posts, etc what appeals to me is originality: if the blogger uses the meme as a starting point and then adds their own voice and perspective, then I'll read it. If not, it's less likely that I will.

  31. Great post! I am totally with you about pictures--particularly of book covers. I think all of us are visual to some extent, and for me I am much more likely to read a review that includes a picture of the cover.

    As for short posts/paragraphs, I'm definitely right there with you again. I always try to keep my reviews pretty succinct (3-4 paragraphs of reasonable size), because I honestly tend to skim the longer reviews that are out there instead of giving the my full attention. I guess I'm just a "to-the-point" person, myself.

    As for Blog Tours, I have participated in a few, but I have to admit I get a little tired of the ones that are primarily reviews of the same book over and over. And you're right--sometimes the tours can just be too big. I like that some of the tour organizers are coming up with new ideas for tours--they focus on one book but you get to see many different presentations.

    Well, enough rambling from me in this comment, just thought I'd put my 2 cents in!

  32. Great discussion you started here. Well for me I'm very visual but I hate blogs that have so much stuff on them and they take forever to load. I love short reviews. In fact, I'm leaning that way for all of mine. I agree with you in regards to too much of a good thing on the tours. I've participated in the past and I have one scheduled in October. I tend to read anything that my favorite bloggers put out there even if it's the 5th review of the same book I've seen everywhere. I'm loyal like that. But it might not draw me into reading a new blog to me. I like bloggers who post anytime they want. I'll read them!!! I like memes. I think they help people see similarities with each other.

  33. Good points! I also like it when bloggers mix it up a bit...something other than posts about books is nice. :-)

    I totally agree on the paragraphs. And I know I've got some posts with paragraph/formatting issues that I need to fix. They're haunting me!

  34. Oh, I love visuals too. If I'm going through my reader and the book cover doesn't grab me, I usually don't read the review.

    I don't read blog tours. Yes, there are reviews in them sometimes; but most of the time it seems like tours are just publicity copy. I'm not going to read that.

    I also usually don't read memes, although it depends on the meme. But again that goes back to what you were saying about seeing something new instead of the same thing over and over.

  35. Thanks for the discussion Rebecca. it's fun to read all the comments too. So many different opinions.
    One thing that bothers me is, like you said, the same book reviewed over and over again, whether it's a part of a blog tour or not. I will probably not buy the book for a very, very long time (if ever) and definitely not read the 20th review of it.
    I think that this is the only thing that will make me skip reading a post altogether.

    I don't mind memes, I actually like them (well maybe Teaser Tuesday is not so great since it's not really bringing anything original to the scene), I think that they all have a purpose of getting people interested in all kinds of different books as well as showing off individual blogger's personality and preferences as far as reading goes.
    To be honest with you, one thing that puts me off a blog in general is the comments the owner of such blogs leaves on other blogs. If a person comes off in the comment as all important, all discriminating, all knowing and trying to set standards and tell other bloggers what to do, I am not visiting that person's blog, ever.

  36. I don't like canned content, and while I publish some of it because of blog tours, I almost always add my two cents worth--often in a separate post. Memes are ok, in their place but I don't like blogs full of them.

  37. I am very, very late here, so please accept my apologies for that :-).

    I tend to be a bit long-winded in my reviews, but I think you have a good point re: paragraph length vs. the length of the entire post. If it's broken into smaller chunks, it doesn't feel as long. I'll need to remember that in my own writing!

    There are some blogs that I'll read almost no matter what, but on the other hand, there are quite a few memes I'll skip, and I don't enjoy blogs that are nearly all memes, all the time.

    I have participated in some blog tours and will continue to do so, but they're usually smaller ones designed to spread over several weeks, with only one tour post each day. I tend to skip over most of the posts in those blog-blast-type tours.

    Since I don't have exclusively book-related content on my blog, I was happy to read in the comments here that people do like a mix :-).

    Great post, and excellent discussion!

  38. This was fun to read--it seems that some of us do like longer posts, but everyone likes a personal touch. Since no one here enjoys reading memes, that must mean that we're appreciating the personal writing style of each blogger we choose to read.

  39. Great discussion, Rebecca. I like when someone poses a quality question that generates some good discussion. That is a trait I would like to emulate. I like visuals, some memes - I don't get Tuesday Teasers, tho.

  40. Thanks for the post and all the sharing. I was happy to see that people don't seem to mind long paragraphs as long as the paragraphs along the way are concise. Good news for this rambling blogger!!!

    P.S. - I don't get all the disinterest in Teaser Tuesdays - I think it is a great meme. It is easy to put together a quick post every now and then and it allows you to shape someone's interest in what you are reading by giving them a glimpse into the book rather than just blabbering about your interpretation or opinion. I like seeing the author's own words in addition to a description and opinion. I get a ton of my To Read suggestions through that meme.


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